Cover image for The long summer : how climate changed civilization
The long summer : how climate changed civilization
Fagan, Brian M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
xvii, 284 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
The threshold of vulnerability -- The late Ice Age orchestra, 18,000 to 13,500 B.C. -- The virgin continent, 15,000 to 11,000 B.C. -- Europe during the Great Warming, 15,000 to 11,000 B.C. -- The thousand-year drought, 11,000 to 10,000 B.C. -- The cataclysm, 10,000 to 4000 B.C. -- Droughts and cities, 6200 to 1900 B.C. -- Gifts of the desert, 6000 to 3100 B.C. -- The dance of air and ocean, 2200 to 1200 B.C. -- Celts and Romans, 1200 B.C. to A.D. 900 -- The great droughts, A.D. 1 to 1200 -- Magnificent ruins, A.D. 1 to 1200 -- Epilogue, A.D. 1200 to modern times.
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Material Type
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QC981.8.C5 F34 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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For more than a century we've known that much of human evolution occurred in an Ice Age. Starting about 15,000 years ago, temperatures began to rise, the glaciers receded, and sea levels rose. The rise of human civilization and all of recorded history occurred in this warm period, known as the Holocene.Until very recently we had no detailed record of climate changes during the Holocene. Now we do. In this engrossing and captivating look at the human effects of climate variability, Brian Fagan shows how climate functioned as what the historian Paul Kennedy described as one of the "deeper transformations" of history--a more important historical factor than we understand.

Author Notes

Brian Fagan is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Anthropologist Fagan engagingly presents an abundance of geological and archaeological evidence supporting the idea that human civilization has been shaped by significant climate change to a greater extent than previously thought. As in his other books, including The Little Ice Age, Fagan cushions his scientific data with absorbing historical narrative. The "long summer" of the title is the Holocene warming trend of the last 15,000 years, which has coddled humanity throughout recorded history. While scientists have always known that cycles of cooling and warming within this era have affected humans, only in the last part of the 20th century did they have detailed ice and sediment cores to provide evidence for specific events. Fagan uses the new information to authoritatively walk readers through the major climatic changes in human history, including droughts that led to the formation of the first cities, rainfall increases connected to the spread of bubonic plague, and volcanic eruptions that triggered disastrous cooling trends. Although often repetitive, these examples serve to prove without a doubt that humans have been increasingly vulnerable to climate change ever since we left a nomadic lifestyle for an agriculture-based one. Part cautionary tale and part historical detective story, this book encourages readers to appreciate the increasingly clear links between great weather changes and human society, politics and survival. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

Fagan (anthropology, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) is an author with many books to his credit, including two that focus on the impact of climatic conditions upon historical developments. In his latest exploration of this subject, Fagan looks at the effect of rising temperatures over the past 15,000 years and how this has influenced human civilizations. While most of human evolution occurred during the Ice Age, it is only when glaciers started to recede and temperatures and sea levels started to rise that humans invented agricultural techniques, which led them to build permanent cities and communities. Recent analysis of climate records during this warm period (the Holocene) provides the framework against which historical transitions are now being studied. Fagan postulates that changes due to warming led to the cattle-herding culture among ancient Egyptians and the Masai; Middle Eastern droughts spawned plant cultivation; rising sea levels created the Persian Gulf and Fertile Crescent, which generated the rise of Mesopotamia. Extremely readable and thought-provoking, this book should appeal to many people, including those concerned with global warming and its implications for the future. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Gloria Maxwell, Penn Valley Community Coll. Lib., Kansas City, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In this fascinating and engaging work, Fagan (emer., anthropology, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) depicts the effects of climatological change on civilizations over the past 15,000 years of the Holocene, particularly, how civilizations have responded to these changes in the environment. Fagan leads readers through major climatic changes in human history, including droughts, floods, and volcanic eruptions. His historical narrative softens the hard scientific data and quickly captivates the reader. For the last 15,000 years there has been a general warming trend and, in part, this book is a cautionary tale illuminating the startling links between great weather changes and human society. The figures, tables, and maps are very helpful in explaining the ideas being conveyed, and there is a good chapter-by-chapter listing of references. An excellent subject index makes the book a useful reference tool to revisit time and again. Though upper-division undergraduates in geography will benefit greatly from this book, the book translates very well to all levels of readership. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels. W. Weston University of New Orleans

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Author's Notep. xvii
1 The Threshold of Vulnerabilityp. 1
Part I Pumps and Conveyor Belts
2 The Late Ice Age Orchestra, 18,000 to 13,500 B.C.p. 13
3 The Virgin Continent, 15,000 to 11,000 B.C.p. 35
4 Europe During the Great Warming, 15,000 to 11,000 B.C.p. 59
5 The Thousand-Year Drought, 11,000 to 10,000 B.C.p. 79
Part II The Centuries of Summer
6 The Cataclysm, 10,000 to 4000 B.C.p. 99
7 Droughts and Cities, 6200 to 1900 B.C.p. 127
8 Gifts of the Desert, 6000 to 3100 B.C.p. 147
Part III The Distance Between Good and Bad Fortune
9 The Dance of Air and Ocean, 2200 to 1200 B.C.p. 169
10 Celts and Romans, 1200 B.C. to A.D. 900p. 189
11 The Great Droughts, A.D. 1 to 1200p. 213
12 Magnificent Ruins, A.D. 1 to 1200p. 229
Epilogue: A.D. 1200 to Modern Timesp. 247
Notesp. 253
Acknowledgmentsp. 271
Indexp. 273